Heated battle
Global warming creates huge hurricanes: RFK Jr.
By ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.


Global warming has made hurricanes worse. Virtually all accepted climate models say warming ocean-surface temperatures amplify the intensity (though not necessarily the frequency) of hurricanes and other storms. Hurricanes are giant engines fueled by heat, and warm water is steroids for storms. Records indicate that this summer may have been the hottest on record, and both Katrina and Rita have behaved as the models predict: forming in the Atlantic, moving over Florida as Category 1 storms and morphing into Category 5 upon hitting the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The jury on global warming has come in. In 2001, more than 2,000 climate scientists from 100 nations announced a worldwide scientific consensus that global warming is upon us, that it's caused primarily by industrial emissions and that its impact will be catastrophic. The only remaining global warming skeptics within the scientific community are a tiny group of industry financed scientists popularly known as "biostitutes." But you don't need a weatherman to know which way the mercury is headed. Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 1995, with Northern Hemisphere temperatures this decade the highest in 2,000 years. The polar ice caps, permafrost and glaciers are disappearing on every continent. Fresh water supplies are dwindling, and deserts are growing. Oceans are rising. Heat waves, fires and droughts are decimating agricultural and timber lands. Recent reports have underscored the connection between global warming and hurricanes. A study from MIT in the journal Nature found that over the past 50 years hurricane wind speeds have increased by 50% and their duration by 60% - in lock-step with rising global temperatures. That study found that storm destructiveness has doubled in the past 30 years with the fastest increase in the last decade as global warming accelerated. A September 2004 study in the Journal of Climate also predicted that Gulf Coast storms will grow more ferocious as global temperatures rise. Thanks to global warming, Katrina and Rita are harbingers of much worse to come. Kennedy teaches law at Pace University and is counsel to the environmental group Riverkeeper.

New York Daily News
September 24, 2005